Family, Criminal & Children's Court Attorneys Since 1991

The emotional impact of divorce on children

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2021 | Custody and Parenting Time |

Even if a divorce is the best solution for your future, there could still be devastating negative consequences for all involved. Divorcing parents must pay close attention to the impact the new living arrangements have on their children.

While the transition might be difficult, parents can help their children adjust to post-divorce life by watching for certain changes, including:

  • Social withdrawal: It is not uncommon for parents to recognize a change in the child’s interest in social activities after a divorce. Whether this is extracurricular activities or the desire to simply spend time with their friends, children of divorce often emotionally and physically pull away from activities and isolate themselves from others.
  • Emotional change: Divorced parents might recognize emotional or personality changes in their children after a divorce. This can often be a gradual change that the parents might attribute to something else such as school, aging or maturity issues. Understanding the cause of the change is crucial to helping the child work through it.
  • Emotional sensitivity: While children of all ages might wear their emotions on their proverbial sleeves, divorced parents might notice a dramatic change. Increased irritability, for example, or feelings of frustration, anger and depression could be a signal that the child is having trouble processing the new living arrangement.

Can parents work past this?

While parents recognize that maintaining a marriage simply for the sake of the child’s emotional health might not be the best solution, they must recognize that certain issues need to be resolved. Parents can follow tactics to guide their children through the post-divorce adjustment, including:

  • Open and honest communication: Some divorced parents tend to shy away from honesty fearing they must protect their children from what happened. While it is wise to avoid conversations that could include infidelity or illegal activity, the children can often benefit from an honest conversation regarding the end of the marriage. This can help them contextualize the divorce. Additionally, it is not uncommon for children to subconsciously blame themselves for ending the marriage and these conversations can help put them at ease.
  • Avoid parental alienation: Some divorces end with the spouses harboring strong negative emotions toward each other. It is crucial that they do not include the children in these conversations. Encouraging emotional and physical distance between your child and your ex can have a long-lasting negative impact. Even if you feel it is justified in the short term, do not let your anger get the best of you post-divorce.

Even in the best of circumstances, a divorce can trigger heated emotional disputes that ultimately impact the entire family. How the two spouses interact with each other through the process and their post-divorce relationship can have a devastating impact on the child’s emotional state. It is wise to recognize these changes and pay careful attention to guiding the children through the adjustment period.